Brewers Guild Update: Kentucky

Support and development of State Brewers Guilds remains a major focus of the Brewers Association in 2012. The addition of Acacia Coast, the trade group’s State Brewers Association Coordinator has helped the BA become more of a resource for existing and fledgling guilds. Acacia has been busy crisscrossing the country attending state brewers association meetings with many of them centered on initial guild formation.

Recently, Acacia provided an update on her trip to Kentucky.

In a land dominated by the Bourbon and horse industries, the craft brewing community is taking the steps necessary to organize a state association to promote and protect their trade. Kentucky craft brewers came together on May 26th at Against the Grain in Louisville, to discuss and further their progress on building a Kentucky craft brewer’s guild. Plans were already in the works to start the guild before I arrived. My national perspective partnered with the national guilds’ best practices, the Kentucky craft brewers guild is on track for successful formation.

Kentucky has four brew pubs, six breweries, and a handful of breweries in planning. There were 20 folks in attendance at the guild meeting, representing nine of the ten brewing companies in the state. The only brewery not in attendance had a good excuse (congratulations to Jeremy of Alltech Brewing Co on their new baby, born that day)! With prohibitive alcohol laws, a blossoming craft beer scene, and excellent beers, the state of Kentucky will no doubt find value in a strong state craft brewer’s guild.

There are many draconian laws that affect craft brewers in Kentucky. Despite the nearly 17,500 jobs the beer industry brings to Kentucky[1], there are still several dry counties. As a matter of fact, the city where Lore Brewing is located was still under prohibition until May of 2010. An interesting study I found while investigating the dry counties of Kentucky suggested that residents of dry counties have to drive farther from their homes to consume alcohol, thus increasing impaired driving exposure. [2]

In addition, the Kentucky craft brewers are certainly interested in finding a fair carve out for their businesses. The guild is already involved with the state ABC on access to market concerns such as their ability to self-distribute.

Through discussions on setting up non-profit status, membership, organizing a governing board, fundraising, and many other formative issues, we were able to leave the meeting with a strong sense of progress. I look forward to supporting the Kentucky guild as they build their craft beer industry forward.
[1] Beer Institute’s The Economic Impact of the Beer Industry, 2010 Data, Kentucky.
[2] Gary, S.L.S., et al. Consideration of driver home county prohibition and alcohol-related vehicle crashes. Accident Analysis and Prevention, 2003, 35(5), 641–648.